Yaghjian, Writing Theology Well, Pt. 2, chp. 5
Meeks, Christ is the Question, Chapters 1-3, p.1-82
An insight I had from the reading this week is how the evolution of knowledge and particularly the evolving view of knowledge of the “self” influenced theologians in their attempts to write a biography of the historical Jesus Christ. This connects to the learning objective “Be able to define in a clear and accurate way what "epistemology" and "hermeneutics" mean and describe how these two disciplines shape and influence theological methodologies”.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge, and particularly for this paper, we’ll focus on the knowledge of the self and knowledge of the scripture, the latter being Hermeneutics. A Modern Theologian attempting to write their biography of Jesus Christ is dealing with many contexts: historical knowledge, archaeological evidence, cultural influences, and personal biases. When writing about a person, we must be working with a model of “self”, and even that is a concept that has changed over time. An insight from the reading that confirmed the complexity is well put by Nietzsche: “There are no facts; there are only interpretations.” Meeks specifically references four “distortions” in knowledge of the self: literalism, cognitivism, privatism, and romanticism.
The ways that we define ourselves absolutely influence how we would write about Jesus. How literally do we read the Bible? Do we need archeological or historical proof of Jesus? Do we rely on prior belief and doctrine as dictated to us in structuring our faith? How does our, in a friend’s words, “rugged individualism” affect our view of self as dictated by American society? How do our feelings about ourselves influence the way we view, and then author a text on the self of Jesus Christ? I find it fascinating to explore these questions and I’m excited to take “Intro to Spiritual and Personal Formation” to delve deeper and discover my own influences and biases.